Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent 2017 #12: The Snuggling Savior


Most nativity scenes depict baby Jesus as wrapped in tight strips of white fabric,  lying on his back. He's always awake, looking around, ready to deliver a heavenly blessing to any who happen by for a visit.

I often wonder if the designers of nativity sets have ever spent time with an infant. 

Those scenes look charming, but that's not what newborn babies do. Instead, they sleep, cry, eat, and release waste. They need to be fed, changed, and snuggled. 

When Jesus was old enough to give hugs, I think he was the snuggliest boy around, mainly because Isaiah described Him as a snuggly Savior. 

"Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His recompense before Him,
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather His lambs,
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
                                            
                                  Isaiah 39:10b-11 nasb 

Let's pause long enough to see Isaiah's word picture clearly in our minds. The Good Shepherd gathers up His little lambs, whether they're tired, injured, wayward, or simply need extra love, and snuggles them close. He holds them tight against His chest (bosom), where they can hear His heavenly heartbeat. 

The slow, steady rhythm of our undisturbed, never-rattled Savior's heart beats a comforting song of safety and peace.

Be still and listen for a moment. Isn't it a comforting image?

I think it's how our Lord still cares for us today. Once, many years ago, I was going through a difficult time of heartbreak and adversity. I was in my prayer room, sobbing my eyes out, face down on the floor. I heard someone enter the room, but I couldn't muster the strength to look up. I assumed it was a friend I'd been expecting. 

Someone sat down beside me and gently stroked my hair as I cried. The room gradually filled with warmth, hope, and peace. I can still feel that gentle hand on my head as the light of heaven invaded me and flooded through my entire body. It felt warm and familiar. 

My tears slowed, then stopped. I rested in the most peace I'd felt in weeks. Gradually, I sat up and looked around for the person who'd touched my hair so sweetly. I was alone in the room. 

Maybe I had a tactile hallucination, but I prefer to think the Spirit of our Lord comforted me in my distress. The warmth of that comfort has stayed with me for years. It wasn't a snuggle, exactly, but, in a very real way, it felt like one.

It was only possible because I was still and on my face in prayer. My problems drove me to the place of comfort. It was the place I needed most.

The Christmas season is beautiful and filled with love, friends, family, joy, and fun. Unless it isn't. Not everyone enters this season with hope and wholeness. Many face the first Christmas without a dearly loved family member. Many are alone and wish they weren't. Some are burdened with more bills than paying power, more need than provision, more hurt than healing. 

Even if this is the most blessed season you've ever experienced, we still need that sweet sense of the presence of our Savior, who slipped on a coat of flesh so He could dwell among us. He knows, from personal experience, how sweet a hug or snuggle can be. Our Good Shepherd still gathers His lambs and snuggles them close to His heart. 

Let's set aside some time today to be still long enough to feel His presence and experience the peace of being gathered in His arms, carried in His bosom, comforted in His love. 
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